The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is but seen by a fortunate few. The majesty and proportion of the Ice shelf will awe you rather intimate you. It is roughly the size of France. It s depth is several hundred meters and only 90 percent of the ice is below the water level. This huge mass is named after the person who discovered it in 1841 –Captain James Clark Ross.He initially named it Victoria Barrier after Queen Victoria.It was discovered on a frozen winter January in 1841. The British Admiralty team was making its way to the Antarctic to measure the South magnetic pole.They also discovered two volcanoes in the nearby region to the Ross Shelf. After that the Ross Ice Shelf became a kind of a base for Antarctic explorers. Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen studied the area in details. They reported that there were great disturbances in the surface with huge ridges and hollows. However the outer base seemed peaceful. The southern part has the highest elevation.
What is an Ice Shelf?
Thick plates of Ice are formed by glaciers. They float on water and acts as brakes for the glaciers.The Ross Ice Shelf is one of those structure. It is about 800 kilometers and there are glaciers in its surroundings that add bulk to it continuously. The largest iceberg in the world was formed from the Ross shelf in March 2000. Scientists have camped here for long trying to understand this moving structure and the movement of the shelf. Using the radio echo sounding some path breaking discoveries were made here. The biomass in the area and the shelf and its relation to the sea floors are some of the topics that were researched on.
An explorer by the name of Shacleton set sailed in the area in the year 1907 and discovered an area which he named as the Bay of Whales. The same area was recorded by Ross, and Amundsen in their expeditions to the Antarctic. In 1980’s weather stations were set up here to read the temperature of the place . Expeditions led here has also visited the Penguins here. Rocks and lava flows were collected from a dormant volcano nearby called Mt Morning.
Some important points in Ross Ice Shelf:
Cape Royds, Ross Island
It is located 15 miles north of McMurdo Station. It is the home of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. A hut still stands here. It was built almost a century ago. Presently it is inhabited by 4000 Adélie penguin pairs.
Cape Crozier, Ross Island
Cape Crozier and Cape Royds are land formed by lava flows that erupted from Mt Erebus which is 12,448 foot. This is an active volcano at the center of Ross Island.The shelf beloe is the breeding ground for Emperor penguins.
It has been estimated by Scientists that if the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ronne Ice Shelf are to melt due to global warming, then cities like Shanghai and New York would be under water. The Ross shelf also increases the lifespan of a glacier surrounding it. It breaks the glaciers advent into the sea.